A discussion of Gatsby’s idealistic dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby”.
A dream is defined in the Webster’s New World Dictionary as: a fanciful vision of the conscious mind; a fond hope or aspiration; anything so lovely, transitory, etc. as to seem dreamlike. In the beginning pages of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway, the narrator of the story gives us a glimpse into Gatsby’s idealistic dream which is later disintegrated. “No- Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elation’s of men.” Gatsby is revealed to us slowly and skillfully, and with a keen tenderness which in the end makes his tragedy a deeply moving one. Jay Gatsby is a crook, a bootlegger who has involved himself with swindlers like Meyer Wolfsheim, the man who fixed the 1919 World Series. He has committed crimes in order to buy the house he feels he needs to win the woman he loves. In chapter five Nick says, “…and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes.” Everything in Gatsby’s house is the zenith of his dreams, and when Daisy enters Gatsby’s house the material things seem to lose their life. Daisy represents a dreamlike, heavenly presence which all that he has is devoted to. Yes, we should consider Jay Gatsby as tragic figure because of belief that he can restore the past and live happily, but his distorted faith is so intense that he blindly unaware of realism that his dream lacks. Gatsby has accumulated his money by dealings with gangsters, yet he remains an innocent figure, he is extravagant. Gatsby is not interested in power for its own sake or in money or prestige. What he wants is his dream, and that dream is embodied in Daisy. Ironically, Daisy Buchanan, is a much more realistic, hard-headed character. She understands money and what it means in American society, because it his her nature; she was born into it. Gatsby intuitively recognizes this, although he cannot fully accept it, when he remarks to Nick that Daisy’s voice “is full of money.” Gatsby will not admit this essential fact because it would destroy his understanding of Daisy. In the end, this willful blindness helps lead to his ultimate tragedy. Gatsby is a romantic, a man who began with a high and exalted vision of himself and his destiny. He aspires to greatness, which he associates with Daisy. If he can win her, then he will have somehow achieved his goal. Gatsby’s wealth, his mansion, his parties, his possessions, even his heroism in battle are but means to achieve his ultimate goal. Gatsby is mistaken, however, in his belief that money can buy happiness or that he can recapture his past if he only becomes rich. One of these examples is when the epigraph becomes clear: the four- line poem of Thomas Park d’Invilliers that Fitzgerald quotes on the title page describes exactly what Gatsby has done. He has symbolically worn the gold hat; he has bounced high, accumulating possessions for this moment, so that when Daisy sees them she will cry our, like the lover in the poem, “I must have you.” And Daisy does. These shirts move Daisy not because they are mad of such fine fabric, or the shirts look very well; they move her because of what the shirts symbolize Gatsby’s extraordinary dedication to his dream. This dedication separates him and makes him morally superior that the materialistic society with which he lives in.. In this case one could consider Gatsby as morally superior even when he commits an error of judgment because of a flaw in his character. Gatsby is indeed morally superior to the other characters in the book, but this superiority is another factor which contributes to Gatsby’s ultimate misfortune. No matter what we think of Gatsby or of his dream, we are drawn to him by the sad apprehension that dreams themselves are often more beautiful than dreams fulfilled. Nick realizes this, too, when he says: “There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams -nor through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything.” What Gatsby and Daisy have is so much more than an endeavor; it’s beautiful, more intense, and finally more painful in the end. There is both a joy and sadness in a love as great as theirs. In some ways Gatsby is morally superior than the society at the time, but this moral superiority is the cause of Gatsby’s dillusionment dream, and inevitable fate. Finally, Nick’s approval is what allows Gatsby to be called “great,” but his greatness has a curious, puzzling quality to it, since it cannot be easily or completely defined. Gatsby certainly lacks many of the qualities and fails many of the tests normally linked with greatness, but he redeems this by his exalted conception of himself. Gatsby has dedicated himself to the accomplishment of a supreme object, to restore to himself an illusion he had lost; he set about it, in a pathetic American way. Gatsby is a man with a dream at the mercy of the “foul dust” that sometimes seems only to exist in order to swarm against the dream. It is a strange dream, Gatsby’s but he was a man who had hopes and aspirations. He was a child, who believed in a childish thing.